Thermal treatment of waste photovoltaic module for recovery and recycling: Experimental assessment of the presence of metals in the gas emissions and in the ashes

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The rapid expansion of the photovoltaic (PV) module market in the last years will determine in the near future a remarkable growth of corresponding waste. Then, the hazardous materials contained in the modules, such as Cd, Pb and Cr, could be released in the environment if the waste panels will not be handled adequately. Recycling processes of silicon crystalline panels, finalized to separate PV cells from the glass, involve the removal of the EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate) layer through different methods, as the thermal treatment. During this treatment, some hazardous components can be released due to thermal degradation process. In this paper the metals released in the gas emissions and in the ashes due to the thermal treatment of modules were evaluated. For this purpose, three samples of crystalline panels were heated in furnace up to 600°C and the complete degradation of the EVA was obtained. A mass balance between the sample and its components, before and after treatment, was performed in order to assess the weight loss percentage. Finally, after thermal treatment a qualitative analysis on the separated PV cell surface was performed by SEM-EDS (Scanning Electron Microscope equipped with Energy Dispersive Spectrometer).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103 - 112
Number of pages10
JournalRenewable Energy
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2015


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment

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